Monday, January 26, 2015

Concert Review: The James Isaac Quintet at Take Five Coffee + Bar
















I visited an arty cafe in Copenhagen on Friday.  Or maybe it was a refined jazz club in London.  It seems almost inconceivable that the adventurous sounds I heard were performed at a shopping center in Leawood, Kansas. 

The first set of the debut performance of the James Isaac Quintet bridged the divide between the sounds heard in European concert halls and at the Village Vanguard.  A receptive audience of about three dozen attended the recital at Take Five Coffee + Bar.

They heard cerebral interpretations of two Wayne Shorter compositions, a nod to Miles Davis, a U2 cover and a reading of a piece by the French composer Gabriel Fauré. 

Saxophonist and clarinetist James Isaac was joined by vocalist Courtney Williams, pianist Brad Cox,  bassist Andrew Stinson and drummer Sam Wisman. 

Cox rarely performs as an accompanist in jazz-oriented settings.  His demure solos evoked the work of André Previn.  Williams often sang in the wordless style employed by the likes of Gretchen Parlato.  Isaac explained that the Fauré selection was among the pieces that reflected "the blending of jazz and classical we're trying to accomplish here." 

Mission accomplished.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Now's the Time: Brian Culbertson

The new season of the American Jazz Museum’s Jammin’ at the Gem series kicks off Saturday, January 24, with a concert by Brian Culbertson.  You can tell Culbertson is “killing” by the way he ”lays back”.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes

*The Kansas City Star reviewed Earl Klugh’s concert at the Folly Theater.

*Kristin Shafel Omiccioli previews a few forthcoming jazz performances.

*The Pitch recommends a gig by Shay Estes and Mark Lowrey at the American Restaurant.

*Beau Bledsoe is among the musicians interview in a report by C.J.Janovy about next month’s Folk Alliance Conference.

*Tweet o’ the Week: Eric Willey- #KC after dark! #jazz @ Mutual Musicians Foundation International Instagram video)

*From Take Five Coffee + Bar: This weekend we have a feast of shows to lighten the winter mood.  Friday, January 23, 8pm: James Isaac Quartet featuring Courtney Williams. James plays sax, Courtney Williams sings, Brad Cox plays piano, Andrew Stinson plays bass and Sam Wisman plays drums. $5 cover.  Saturday, January 24, 8pm: Victor & Penny and the Loose Change Orchestra. With the great Loose Change Orchestra behind them – James Isaac on clarinet, Rick Willoughby on bass. $10 cover.  Sunday, January 25, 10am - 2pm: Sunday Jazz Brunch: Kim Sivils & Steve Rigazzi. No cover.

(Original image of Ryan Lee and Peter Schlamb at the RecordBar by Plastic Sax.)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Album Review: The Paul Shinn Trio- Easy Now















A musician and I recently compared notes on the success of the Green Lady Lounge, the venue on Grand Boulevard operated by John Scott.  The musician suggested that Scott had  “cracked the code” for attracting people to a Kansas City jazz club.  

The elegant decor, murky lighting, upscale service and the absence of a cover charge make the Green Lady Lounge a favorite haunt of fashionable millennials.  

The three 20-something members of the Paul Shinn Trio- pianist Shinn, bassist Dominique Sanders and drummer Ryan Lee- are part of that coveted demographic.  

Easy Now, the trio’s superb second album, was recorded at the Green Lady Lounge on August 11, 2014.  

Shinn credits pianist Benny Green for “inspiration” in the liner notes.  While tracks like “Handful of Keys” reflect the swinging sensibility of the mainstream jazz stalwart, much of the album more closely resembles the progressive work of the Brad Mehldau Trio.

The recording’s best moments occur when the band locks into a soulful groove.  A transfixing ten-minute rendition of “Ton of Simple,” for instance, merits its length.  

The delicate “A Desolate Cath” could be effectively employed as the theme song for a romantic Hollywood blockbuster.  The title track possesses a similarly strong compositional flair.

The album release show for Easy Now was at the Orion Room of the Green Lady Lounge on Sunday, January 11.  The audience was attentive and the atmosphere was sublime. Needless to say, the music was excellent.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Friday, January 16, 2015

Now's the Time: Peter Schlamb


Peter Schlamb is the featured artist at two very different shows this weekend.  On Saturday, January 17, the vibraphonist will perform in his "Electric Tinks" format at MiniBar.  On Sunday, January 18, Schlamb will play all original material in a quartet setting at the RecordBar.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Confirmation: Weekly News & Notes















*KC Jazz Lark appraises Kansas City's jazz scene.

*Musicians share their thoughts about the late Tommy Ruskin with Neon Jazz.

*Demencha magazine interviewed Dominique Sanders about his new album.

*A blogger takes note of a performance by guitarists Charles Gatschet and Matt Hopper. 

*The Pitch touts Horacescope's gig at the Blue Room.

*Joyce Smith reports that vocalist Darcus Gates will open a "supper club" named Dash in May.

*Rudresh Mahanthappa's Bird Calls, an album on which "each track is directly based on a Parker composition or solo," will be released next month.

*Tweet o' the Week: Hermon Mehari- Playing in NYC tonight with Matt Brewer (bass), Craig Weinrib (drums), and Tony Tixier (piano) at Somethin Jazz Club from 9-10:45!

*Comment o' the Week: - Brian Baggett- Maybe Marilyn would like to do some VH covers with DŌJŌ?

*After years of neglect, the dead and dormant links in the blogroll have been cleared out.  Please let me know if you have a proper (non-Facebook/ReverbNation) site that merits inclusion.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Concert Review: Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle at Take Five Coffee + Bar
















A man in the full house at Take Five Coffee + Bar on Saturday wore makeshift earplugs.  The music performed by Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle merited the high volume.

I've been impressed every time I've watched Eddie Moore and the Outer Circle perform at the Blue Room and the Green Lady Lounge in the past couple years.  The ensemble continues to expand on the sound documented on the 2013 album The Freedom of Expression(Plastic Sax review).

During Saturday's gig the band played with even more focus and assurance.  Moore alternated between piano and a Yamaha MO8 as he and the current lineup- guitarist Adam Schlozman, bassist D'Andre Manning and drummer Pat Adams- evoked the classic work of the Crusaders and Head Hunters-era Herbie Hancock.

Schlozman's subtle playing was particularly impressive.  He may become the most significant jazz guitarist to emerge from Kansas City since Steve Cardenas.

Material from a forthcoming album titled Kings and Queens struck the right balance between artful ambition and jubilant grooves.  The Outer Circle may be stylistically rooted in the 1970s, but its exceptional musicianship and astonishing rapport imbues the band with unwavering relevance.

(Original image by Plastic Sax.)